A quick list of the basic elements that all functional patios need.
Like many things in life, the word “need” has become quite subjective. My needs and your needs aren’t the same, however, there's a few basic patio principles that we can begin from. Starting with the basics is a great way to turn an outdoor space into something functional before jumping into complete outdoor living setups. Below are a few essentials you should consider before embarking on patio construction.
The Earth Under Your Feet
This is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to the foundation of your patio. However, there are a few things to consider and a few best practices which is why you typically see the same materials used over and over again.
One of the biggest considerations when choosing the primary material of your patio is water. How do you control it, and how do you co-exist with it? First, you need to protect your home and ensure that water moves away from your foundation. Second, a muddy patio isn’t a pleasant experience. If water is ever a consideration–whether it be falling from the sky or a pooling mess, no one will want to hang around the patio. Managing water correctly is a primary concern.
Next, we consider ease of use – this also includes cleaning. If your patio is a pain in the butt, you won’t use it. If you’re constantly fighting with crushed stone – whether it’s weeds sprouting up or you’re unable to move a chair without pushing a pile of rocks with it – your patio will become a burden.
This is why you traditionally see concrete slabs used as the base of a patio. With concrete, you can control the flow of water, eliminate mud, easily power wash and keep weeds away, and its hard, flat surface makes it perfect for grilling, dining, or lounging. But we get it – concrete can become boring. Consider spicing things up a notch with colored and stamped concrete. You’ll retain all of the benefits while adding a unique, personal touch.
Another material to consider is pavers and flagstone. With these materials, you can incorporate large flat sections for patio furniture and grilling, and then change things up with crushed stone for pathways or flower beds. Pavers and flagstone allow you to create custom patterns and designs with the material, a stylish departure from traditional concrete.
When embarking upon creating a patio, the material you choose as the “flooring” is the most important choice you’ll make. Everything else about your patio is built up from it, and rests upon it.
The second element to a functional patio is access to water. An outside faucet with a hose will work, but you’ll need the ability to water plants, rinse and wash patio furniture, clean your grill, and occasionally wash the patio itself.
If you have kids, a functional place for messy projects and summertime entertainment becomes an essential part of a patio. Simply by providing access to water, you’ll add hours of more entertainment and use from your patio. Should you find yourself doing a lot of outdoor cooking, the ability to one day add a sink and running water is a massive game changer. Likewise, hot tubs also tend to find their way near a patio. Don’t overlook access to water.
Outlets are vital aspect to a successful patio. Whether it’s something as simple as charging a phone or Bluetooth speaker, our world revolved around electronic devices. Providing power to your patio will help you use power tools to complete other projects, or give you the connection you need to power a blender. Obviously, the uses of power is limitless – don’t limit yourself by not including access to electricity in your new patio.
We can’t stress this enough, as it’s one of the most overlooked aspects – patios need proper lighting. Most patios are used after work in the evening. Entertaining, cooking, or simply trying to read a book is impossible without adequate lighting. Consider both flood lights and ambient lighting. Flood lights are great when you actually “need to see” what you’re doing, but can be a bit overbearing. Ambient lighting is perfect carry on conversations and allow you to navigate from place to place.
There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to patios. In fact, they’re generally a pretty personal and unique to each homeowner. However, no matter who you are, when you starting thinking about building a patio – we strongly recommend that you choose the proper material for your lot and home, and that you include water, electricity, and lighting.
For more tips or if you’d like to bring in the professionals to handle building a patio for your home, give Alpine Contracting a call. We’d be happy to listen to your ideas and provide solutions.